Domestic Violence Against Women in Occupied Palestine

From a new HRW study written by Farida Deif and our friend Lucy Mair:

A significant number of women and girls in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) are victims of violence perpetrated by family members and intimate partners. While there is increasing recognition of the problem and some Palestinian Authority (PA) officials have indicated their support for a more forceful response, little action has been taken to seriously address these abuses. Indeed, there is some evidence the level of violence is getting worse while the remedies available to victims are being further eroded.

Defenders of the status quo on this issue typically justify the PA’s failure to take more decisive action by highlighting the many critical political, economic, and security matters facing the PA, a situation only exacerbated by events following the electoral victory of Hamas in January 2006. While it is true that Israeli actions since the outbreak of the current intifada in September 2000—including attacks on PA institutions and security services, and Israel’s current refusal to remit tax revenues, among others—have significantly weakened PA capabilities, this is no excuse for inaction. There is much that PA officials could be but are not doing to end violence against women inside the family. This report offers concrete suggestions for change, some of which are highlighted in the key recommendations listed at the end of this section.

Update: Also see The New York Times article on the study here. Lucy Mair:

“The problem is that no one sees this abuse as a crime,” Lucy Mair, a researcher in the Middle East and North Africa Division of Human Rights Watch and a co-author of the report, said in an interview. “It’s seen as a family or social problem, and some behavior is not even criminalized.”